By Vancouver Sun |

A revealing new “super-diversity” website created by a University of B.C. geographer, Daniel Hiebert, shows nine of 10 recent Chinese immigrants arrive in Metro Vancouver with enough money to immediately buy homes. But only half hold down jobs during their first five years in Canada, while four of 10 report they’re surviving on low incomes.

In sharp contrast, as Hiebert points out while showing his data-rich charts and maps on his interactive website, nine of 10 Filipino immigrants have jobs within five years of arriving in Metro Vancouver. Less than 10 per cent of Filipinos say they are on low incomes, and just four in 10 own their homes.

This is just a sample of the almost endless array of demographic insights about Canadian immigration, refugees, ethnicity, economic class and religion that can be readily discovered on the website, www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de.

With a team of international scholars, Hiebert has been designing the site to help Canadian policy-makers, academics, journalists and the public “get a factual sense of how the world is changing. So that they can make their own interpretations.”

The website’s graphics quickly reveal nuggets about “super-diversity” in Canada, including that Metro Vancouver Muslims come from an astonishing 117 different ethnic backgrounds, and that initially disadvantaged refugees eventually do well in terms of education, income and housing after about two decades in Canada.

The super-diversity website democratizes immense pools of data from 1980 on, which have long been difficult or impossible for most Canadians to tap. The site provides the basis for an informed Canadian debate on immigration, which has so far been held back by exaggerated claims by both skeptics and advocates.

The website, created in collaboration with German and other scholars (thus the country code “.de” in the domain name), includes interactive maps that break Metro Vancouver down into 3,400 small chunks. Viewers can analyze each for such things as ethnicity, income, mobility, language and education levels.

Since Hiebert’s Canadian research for the first time correlates 2016 census information with “landing data” provided by the federal immigration department, he was able to discover that immigrants in general, but ethnic Chinese in particular, move unusually quickly into Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

“The Chinese story is one of a great transfer of wealth” into Canada from offshore, he said. “Home ownership rates reflect that wealth transfer.”

The interactive online charts show the overall rate of home ownership by ethnicity — with nine in 10 ethnic Chinese owning their homes in Metro Vancouver, compared to eight in 10 South Asians, seven in 10 Caucasians and Koreans, six in 10 Filipinos and just four in 10 blacks, Arabs and Latin Americans.

The maps and charts created by Hiebert, Steven Vertovec, Alan Gamlen and Paul Spoonley also show the most “mobile” regions of Metro,the neighbourhoods in which people are more likely to move frequently. They tend to be in the north end of the City of Vancouver (from Kitsilano to Strathcona), New Westminster, parts of North Vancouver and around the City of Langley.

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